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He’d been through hell. Everyone knew that. He’d retreated from life and shut everyone out while he battled the demons that never seemed to leave him alone. But the life of an eight-year-old boy depended on his being able to do just that.
Lisa looked at the man across from her. She’d seen him a few times, in very brief situations, but this was the first time she’d had the chance to study him.
At thirty-eight he looked at least ten years older. He had thick black hair peppered with grey, worn long enough that he tied it back with a leather thong. His beard looked more like the result of not shaving rather than a deliberate plan, and dissolution had added extra flesh around the jaw line and pouches under his eyes. His skin was an unhealthy, ruddy color, probably from the amount of alcohol she heard he drank with regularity. Although he carried a few extra pounds, she bet that in his best days, he was lean and mean.
If this were, as the fairy tales said, once upon a time—before Charles had killed any interest she had in men and before Ethan Caine had destroyed himself—she could see herself being drawn to him. Now he just offended her, and she resented any latent spark of attraction he ignited in her.
But then she saw his eyes and something stabbed at her. Although they were alert, studying both the Taylors and his surroundings at the same time, they were a bottomless black filled with so much pain it hurt to look at them. What had this man seen and done that caused that much personal misery? Was this the kind of man she could trust to find her son?
She shook herself at the sound of Josh’s voice. “I’m sorry. My mind tends to wander these days.” She pasted what she was sure was a grotesque mockery of a smile on her face. “Than you very much for coming, Mr. Caine.”
“Ethan. Don’t thank me yet.” His voice was deep but not smooth, more like the scraping sound of gravel falling on cement. “Right now we’re just having lunch.”
“That’s true.” She nodded, willing her hands to stop their incessant tremors.
“So, why don’t we order and you can tell me what this little meet and greet is all about.”